Rejoicing in Christ in a fallen world.
In the wake of recent happenings in the US that greatly affect Christians, some believers may be wondering what this world is coming to. Much of this has come as a shock to many, especially the “cultural Christian” segment, or the new religious right. After the supreme court ruling declaring it illegal for states to ban same-sex marriage, many emotions including disappointment, shock, and anger and even hatred spread throughout the dissenting population. While grieving over sin is both healthy, and righteous (Luke 6:25), we need to remember one thing–God is sovereign over all.
So while we can be disappointed, we can have opinions, we can talk, pray and express our thoughts and feelings, let’s not forget who we represent, and who we are to rejoice in–Jesus Christ.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
God is Sovereign
God is in control of all things. God is never caught off guard, nor is he surprised by this ruling. In fact, God knew before the foundation of this world that this supreme court ruling would happen (Isaiah 46:10). God was not surprised by the fall of Adam and Eve either, yet he chose to create them and loved them enough redeem them. We are a sinful world, and man left in his natural state is in total rebellion against God (Romans 3:11). Scripture predicts that the world, including much of the visible church, will fall into chaos, and persecution of his saints will increase in the last days. The fact that this is happening just serves to prove that God’s word can be trusted. Let’s remember this while we evangelize, and let it bring us great joy.
Rejoice in Christ
Those of us, who are in Christ should be rejoicing in his mercy and grace. He could have simply turned all of us over to our sin, yet, while we were still sinners, he sent his son to die for us because he loved us. He chose to save us out of our own sinful state, based on nothing good in us. It was truly out of his good purpose and his will that we can stand today and proclaim his name (Eph 2:8-9). Let’s not forget that. While we still sin, we don’t identify as sinners, our identity is in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), and we are now called, according to his purpose, to do good works (Eph 2:10).
Do Not Compromise
The world is going to pressure believers more and more into compromise. Even churches–once solid churches and denominations–are compromising the Word of God. We must not be afraid to call people to repentance, including homosexuals. The supreme court ruling has now made it easier for people to rationalize their sin. Pastor Clint Pressley said, while preaching at the 2015 SBC Pastor’s Conference, “we [churches] are afraid if we tell people to repent, they won’t come back.” This is absolutely correct. Churches have become so focused on seeking to attract people, and increase their numbers that they are willing to compromise on anything. We need to stop worrying about numbers, and let the Holy Spirit build his church. All we need to do is be obedient. We are to go out to the ends of the world, and proclaim the Gospel.
If we concern ourselves with offending people while evangelizing them, these people may never be able to hear the truth. If we don’t proclaim the truth when we have the opportunity, their blood will be on our hands (Ezekiel 3:18). God’s word, by design, is offensive (Romans 9:33). That person you meet at the gas station, or that waitress at the restaurant–these people need to hear the gospel. They may not have another chance; do you really want to pass up that opportunity so not to offend them? In the words of John Calvin, “The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.” The word of God is meant to divide–to separate the righteous from the unrighteous. Jesus Christ himself said:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. – Matthew 10:34
and the writer of Hebrews tells us:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
While we can’t view this particular sin as worse than other sin, nor somehow proclaim self-righteousness in the face of it, we should not be afraid to call it what it is. It is an abomination to God. We also need to differentiate between God’s word, and our words. If we are proclaiming anything other than the truth of God’s word, we are sinning. But we must unabashedly proclaim the whole counsel of God to all the nations and all people. We must not be ashamed.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. – Romans 1:16
Don’t Limit the Holy Spirit
Where would we be today if Martin Luther didn’t have the courage to stand against all opposition to the Church and nail his 95 Theses to the door of his Wittenburg church? What if Paul was afraid of pushing people away from Jesus by proclaiming the truth? What if Peter didn’t travel the known world to evangelize the masses? What about the other great evangelists of history, who faithfully travelled proclaiming the Word of God, calling people to repentance, writing theological works, and rebuking sin and false doctrine–what if they stood idly by and just watched as people fall further away into sin simply because they didn’t think their words would make a difference, or they were afraid of pushing people further away?
We cannot allow our man-centered reasoning to interfere with our obedience to God. It is not up to us to draw people to God, it is up to us to proclaim the Word of God (Matthew 28:19). For us to have the audacity to think that we can somehow interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit by preaching the Word of God is a rather presumptuous claim. John 6:37 says “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” As Christians, we understand Jesus Christ to be the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1, 1:14). When we proclaim the Word of God, we are proclaiming Jesus. There is no part of God’s Word that is not Jesus. We must proclaim boldly the whole counsel of God, but we must proclaim only the Word of God.
We live in a different world today than we did in centuries past. Technology makes it easier and faster to communicate with people. It also makes it easier to share the Gospel, but also easier to sin. It’s also easy to forget that on social media, other’s who aren’t engaged in a public conversation may still be watching, and listening to what we’re saying. This can be a great opportunity to be a witness, and we may not even know it. We must always remember that we are to stand on the truth of God’s Word, never compromising for any reason–but we must never forget who we represent. We should never speak of our own accord, regardless of the medium we are using. Anything can be used for God’s glory, but anything can also be used for sin. We should always be ready and willing to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), but we must separate God’s truth from our personal emotions that don’t align with it. Part of Paul’s final instructions to the Corinthians in his first letter were:
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Cor 16:13-14
These certainly are words to heed in these last days, as Jesus will be returning soon (Rev 22:12).